South West rescue chopper in doubt

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times
Happier times: Former Bunbury MLA John Castrilli with former Premier Colin Barnett and former Emergency Minister Joe Francis in Bunbury for the launch of the RAC Rescue Helicopter last year.
Camera IconHappier times: Former Bunbury MLA John Castrilli with former Premier Colin Barnett and former Emergency Minister Joe Francis in Bunbury for the launch of the RAC Rescue Helicopter last year. Credit: David Bailey / South Western Times

The future of the South West RAC Rescue Helicopter is in doubt after Bunbury MLA Don Punch vowed to fight for the service.

Despite Mr Punch telling the South Western Times last month that he was confident the Bunbury-based service would be part of ongoing budget reviews, the chopper’s future is looking more dire than ever.

The service will get $9 million this financial year, but has no funding commitments for the following three years.

Happier times: Former DFES Commissioner Wayne Gregson, member for Wagin Terry Waldren, former Emergency Services Minister Joe Francis and former Bunbury MLA John Castrilli officially open the RAC Rescue Helicopter base last year.
Camera IconHappier times: Former DFES Commissioner Wayne Gregson, member for Wagin Terry Waldren, former Emergency Services Minister Joe Francis and former Bunbury MLA John Castrilli officially open the RAC Rescue Helicopter base last year. Credit: Jon Gellweiler / South Western Times

But Mr Punch has vowed to fight for funding, saying he has taken his concerns to Premier Mark McGowan and Emergency Services Minister Fran Logan.

“The South West rescue helicopter is a priority for the South West community and as the local member I will be fighting to ensure it is maintained,” Mr Punch said.

“I know the value our community places on the South West rescue helicopter and I will be doing everything I can to make sure its operations are funded into the future.”

Mr Punch blamed the Liberal and National parties’ blocking of the proposed gold royalty as the latest hit to the State’s budget.

The RAC rescue chopper is in doubt.
Camera IconThe RAC rescue chopper is in doubt. Credit: South Western Times

“By throwing out the gold royalty increase, the Liberal and National parties have combined to reduce the funds available for priority services, but I am committed to securing the money needed to keep the South West rescue helicopter flying,” he said.

It comes as the National Party launched a “Save our Rescue Chopper” campaign online this week asking people to sign a petition.

So far 811 have signed the petition.

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